Lionel Messi marked his 400th appearance for Barcelona with another goal as the Catalan club beat Levante 3-0 to re-establish their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga.
Any hope from other clubs in Spain that Messi might have lost some momentum over the winter break were swiftly dashed when the Argentinian opened his account for 2018 after only 12 minutes. A clipped pass over the top to Jordi Alba was headed back into the path of Messi by the full-back and La Liga’s leading scorer volleyed the ball in off the foot of the post.
It was Messi’s 365th league goal for Barcelona – equalling Gerd Muller’s record for goals in a single one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Luis Suarez doubled the lead with a superb strike before Messi laid on a simple third for Paulinho in second-half injury time.
The victory cancelled out Atlético Madrid’s win earlier in the weekend to restore the nine-point gap at the top of the table.
One player hoping to make an impact on European football is 18-year-old Facundo Colidio and despite not yet making his Inter Milan debut, the Boca Juniors academy product scored twice as Inter’s youth side lifted the Supercoppa Primavera with victory over Roma.
Colidio scored after three minutes, following up to tap in from close range after his initial effort was saved but Roma were soon level.
With the game tied, heading to penalties deep in extra-time, Colidio struck again. Two minutes from time a corner from the left bobbled on the edge of the six-yard box and the Rafaela born striker flicked the ball over his shoulder and into the net.
In the Coupe de France, Paris Saint-Germain made light work of Rennes with Ángel Di María scoring twice en route to a 6-1 victory.
Kylian Mbappe and Neymar had already put PSG firmly in control when Di María tapped in Yuri Berchiche’s left wing cross. A second goal for Neymar before half time ensured the only question remaining in the tie would be how many Unai Emery’s side would score.
Rennes pulled a goal back but a well-struck Di María second from the edge of the box made it five and a minute later Mbappe tapped in the sixth.
Di María wasn’t the only Argentinian on the scoresheet in the Coupe de France on Sunday as Nantes’ Emiliano Sala scored twice in a 4-0 win over USM Senlis.
Nantes were already two-up when Sala dashed clear to round the keeper and make it three in the 81st minute. And the 27-year-old wasn’t done there, tapping in from almost under the crossbar in the 90th minute.
Bas Dost’s hat-trick stole the headlines in Sporting Clube de Portugal 5-0 win over Maritimo but Argentina’s Marcos Acuña got himself in on the act in stoppage time.
Sporting were cruising to victory after the prolific Dost’s treble and another by Bryan Ruiz but before the full time whistle, Acuña smashed in a fifth. The goalkeeper could only palm away an initial strike from the edge of the penalty area but the ball fell to the former Racing midfielder and Huevo’s trusty left boot sent it fiercely back into the net.
And finally, Lucas Alario scored twice in Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-2 friendly draw with Preußen Münster. One week before the Bundesliga restarts, the former River Plate and Colón striker displayed his scoring instincts with a couple of first half goals. Alario will be hoping that a strong second half of the season could see him force his way into Jorge Sampaoli’s World Cup plans.